Founders: Chris Hoppe, Mark Cors, Paul Sanchez
Service: Online manufacturing directory
Goal: Create product development and manufacturing community.
Experience: Each founder has 10 to 25 years of product or software development experience.
Having worked in product development for years, Chris Hoppe found it frustrating that he could not easily find manufacturers to produce short-run projects. In one case, he only found a laser cutting firm with the right capabilities by chance on a trip to see a friend in Appleton.
“You can find somebody in China to make a couple parts for you pretty cheap or pretty quickly,” Hoppe said. “I thought I should be able to find somebody I can go shake hands with and see their operations and know who I’m working with much easier.”
Hoppe said the existing systems for finding vendors were not set up for what he felt product development professionals needed.
“Their business models are hinged on large manufacturers paying them a lot of money to skew rankings and that just wasted my time and wasted a lot of the manufacturers’ time,” he said. “I thought that was really inefficient and, frankly, disrespectful to both parties.”
So in 2014, along with co-founders Mark Cors and Paul Sanchez, Hoppe started SourcingUSA Inc., an online directory that allows users to find manufacturers based on their capabilities and location.
“I wanted to allow small to mid-sized manufacturers to play on an even playing field,” Hoppe said.
SourcingUSA uses a freemium model, meaning users can search for free and manufacturers can have a profile listing general capabilities. Companies then pay to list more specific capabilities and access data analytics.
Having more detailed and specific capability information is part of how SourcingUSA is trying to stand out. The company also uses an algorithm to provide fallback search if there are no initial results for users.
“Nobody else in the market is providing that kind of granularity of search,” Hoppe said.
He added that manufacturers can also use data from searches to see what kind of capabilities local users are searching for, allowing the company to make more strategic decisions when it comes to capital investments.
“What we really want to do is eventually evolve into a product development and manufacturing community where we can share best practices and product developers and manufacturers can find each other and work together more efficiently,” Hoppe said.
For now, the company is focused on working toward a major revision of its website, which Hoppe said will launch in the coming months.